This has been the most beautiful Autumn that I remember for some time. Part of it was the weather, lots of sun and warmth and only occasional rain, but never a driving rain that stripped the color from the trees. The other part, for me, was that I had, or intentionally made, the time to get out and enjoy and capture the color. There have been some years when I have been so busy with portraits that I barely came up long enough to even notice that the trees were changing. That is just an incredible loss on my part. While it wasn’t the most colorful fall ever, I feel like it was the one I’ve been most present for in a few years. Yes, it’s been a good fall!
Today’s mandalas, and those for the next few weeks, are created with my fall color images. This one was taken along Penn’s Creek in Pennsylvania where we spent a day visiting family. I love the way the colors seem to be just floating and not necessarily attached to any one tree. And I love the mandalas, which are not at all what I expected from this image. The original image is very painterly and soft to me. The mandalas make me think of gnomes and fairies and other magical beings that , perhaps, live in the forest. They make me think of the fairy tales that I loved as a child and the stories that took place in those magical forests.
What do you see in these images? What do they make you feel?
Into the Forest Mandala_8_©GSHaile
A few weeks ago, I had a fantastic time leading a photowalk as part of a larger event, The Worldwide Photowalk. The entire event had more than 1200 walks and over 28, 00 walkers all over the world. Here in my corner of the world, we had about 15 walkers and a perfect day for it. It was a bit overcast and even started to mist a bit towards the end, but all that provided some interesting lighting conditions. And it was like a giant photographers’ play date so we were all happy. It was such an incredibly fun group of people with a wide range of interests and abilities and we all learned from each other.
We walked in an area that many, though not all, of us were very familiar with and tried to see the details that we too often overlook. When we gathered after the walk, we reviewed all the images we had taken . It was so interesting to see the different things that people saw, or the different ways they photographed the same thing.
I’m always looking for interesting details that might be source material for mandalas and some of what I photographed during the walk fell in to that category. The source image for today’s mandalas came from that day. I like what happened to the background of this image, it’s out of focus but still created some interesting patterns. The gold leaves have strong color and texture that contrasts well with that background.
There is a contest for the Worldwide Photowalk leaders to enter an image from the walk. (There is also one for walkers that has already closed for submissions.) The rules are simple: it has to be an image that was taken on the walk. Since one of the parent organizations for the walk is National Association of Photoshop Users image manipulation is allowed . 🙂 I’m planning on entering one of these mandalas and would love it if you’d help me decide which one. In the comments section, please tell me your 2 favorites from this group of mandalas. Each mandala has a number in it’s title (the titles show up when you click on an image to enlarge) so use those numbers to indicate your favorites. Thanks for your help!
Note: If you are new to this blog and wonder about why I create mandalas with my photographs, I suggest you visit my first Mandala Monday post, here.
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Recently, I have been giving one-on-one instruction in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. I like doing the individual lessons as it allows people to learn exactly what they want to and go on from there. Photoshop is such a vast program that sometimes it is easier to start with a specific goal in mind.
The student I had last week is actually a friend as well as a member of the Creativity Group that I belong to and wrote about last week. She was the inspiration for me to originally play with Mandalas. She was always showing us her notebook where she would draw a mandala each day. Ever since I figured out how to do them in Photoshop , she has wanted to be able to create them digitally also. She bought Photoshop Elements for the express purpose of learning to make mandalas.
We had a couple of lessons where we went over some very basic computer/photoshop stuff but before she came last week I decided it was time to just dive in and have her create a mandala. There are a couple of different methods that I use, one uses pie shaped wedges taken from the source image and another uses a square section of the source image. They each yield very different results. Early on, I focused more on the Wedge technique because of the kinds of images I was using, mostly trees, and what I had in mind for the result. It’s quite similar to making a kaleidoscope. I hadn’t played with the square version in quite a while (I call it Twist and Flip as that is what you do with the multiple squares and layers that you create with the source image). When I thought about which method would be the easiest to understand and to implement quickly with a limited knowledge of Photoshop, the Twist and Flip method was the choice. In learning how to do that, she would learn about 3 or 4 different tools, learn about layers and blending modes, and get a basic understanding of how Photoshop Elements works. Way more fun than simply going over the tools and menus one by one! Within an hour she had created a beautiful mandala and understood the possibilities for variations. On her own, over the next week, she created several more and was learning what types of images yielded the best mandalas for her. I can’t wait for her next lesson!
As a result of getting ready for her lesson I rediscovered this method that I had neglected for quite some time. I’ve been having so much fun playing with it again and discovering what sorts of mandalas result from various types of images. With both the Wedge and the Twist and Flip method though, there is only so much you can predict or anticipate with regards to the resulting mandala. That is much of what I love about creating them, that sense of wonder and surprise upon discovering something that was seemingly there all along but unseen.
One of the source images you may remember from the third Mandala Monday. Using the Twist and Flip method with this image yielded completely different mandalas than those from the previous post that were created with the Wedge method. In the gallery, every 2 mandalas are followed by the source image from which they were created.
I hope this Monday brings you welcome surprises like these mandalas did for me! Enjoy!
Usually a very dry summer is a precursor to a very dull fall. This summer was one of the driest in many years so I was expecting more of a fizzle than a blast from the usual color show that the trees put on each Fall here in the Northeast. That has been far from the case. Instead, it has been one of the most vibrant displays of color than we’ve had in several years. The majestic oak in our front yard went from deep green to tinges of orange to the beautiful color of caramel. The ginkgo trees that abound in our village put on an amazing show of thousands of little bright yellow fan shaped leaves. The maples and birches played their part too with reds and oranges and yellows. The added bonus was an uncharacteristic string of blue skied days to contrast with all those colors. It has been a spectacular Fall. But the leaves are almost all down now and there’s this thing called Sandy approaching that is sure to wipe the remaining color from both the trees and the sky. I took a few minutes last week to capture just a bit of that color with my camera and then see what mandalas might result.
A magnet designed by Kathy Davis with the words “Each Day is a Gift, Make the most of it” has been on my refrigerator for many years now. This is not a new idea. We all know it and tend to glaze over and think, “yeah I know” but rush on to the next “important” item on our list. But, it IS something that we must be reminded of frequently.
Two events this week have me remembering this life lesson. I did a portrait session for a couple the other day. They are, let’s say, over the age when we tend to think about or want our portraits done. This couple wanted to honor their everyday life together by capturing it in a portrait. They didn’t wait for a grandchild’s graduation or wedding but instead celebrated their life now at this point. They celebrated the small act of taking a walk with their dog each day. They celebrated the small stuff that is actually the big stuff.
The second event was attending the funeral of a friend who died extremely unexpectedly at a relatively young age. This was quite literally a stunning occurrence for our whole community.
So, yeah, maybe it’s cliché but it is SO true.
Each day is a gift, make the most of it.
Each Day is a Gift
©Gail S. Haile, Haile Fine Photography